The Mole reads the papers (and other things) so you don't have to
or in this case, kind of like yelling down a rat hole, sends letters


An open letter to the Mayor of Los Angeles, the Honorable Antonio Villaraigosa, regarding our local transportation system.

Dear Mayor Villaraigosa:

I am respectfully writing this appeal to you in order to request that you take action to address both the dysfunctional LACMTA and to institute a non-political LAC transportation commission to oversee the Metro system.

My rational for this request is outlined below:

As presently constituted, the LACMTA board and management is insensitive to the needs of the users of the Metro system;

Mr. Snoble, has demonstrated, publicly, his lack of fitness and lack of leadership for his position. Including, but not limited to, wanting to eliminate security as a cost saving measure:

Planning for system additions, if it can be called that, is piecemeal, irrational and lacks comprehensiveness. As examples, the expensive, unnecessary and dangerous (it is a grade level fixed rail link) “Expo Line”, the Gold Line Extension which initiated construction BEFORE obtaining firm right-of-way and cost agreements and the “new idea” for “trolley cars” citing San Francisco as a model;

The LACMTA wastes money on things like the money losing “Metro Store”, on board TransitTV which is annoying to riders while offering little hope for the promised income, automatic announcements of bus destinations, triggered by the bus door opening at stops, which seem to be incorrect 75 percent of the time, thereby failing their intended population – those with vision challenges. At the same the LACMTA fails to use technology to solicit ridership feedback about planned route and schedule changes, depending instead on 19th century meetings, which are designed by virtue of location and timing to ensure low attendance by the system users. Readers of my blog at http://lametromole.blogspot.com/ are familiar with a long list of complaints , e.g., the costly line 232 backtracking and others, regarding the LACMTA, some of which have been reported to, and ignored by the present LACMTA.

Therefore, I request that you constitute a new transportation board, comprised of transportation professionals, not politicians. I further request that a staff group, again, comprised of transportation professionals, be established to oversee ALL Metro system planning. This group will report to the new board with their recommendations for system changes which are: rational, comprehensive and supported by a detailed cost-benefit analysis.

It is my firm belief, that implementing my suggestions will result in a system which is better suited to the needs of the city of Los Angeles and to Los Angeles County as well.

Respectfully submitted

My message to the “powers that be" via the http://www.metro.net/ form:

Printed yellow signs on-board buses advised us of area meetings - which have been held already. The sign said that plans for December 2006 bus route changes could be found on www.metro.net.

Search as I might, I could find only one document, a single page and that contained only the title.

Where is this important information hidden?

Ear to the Rail
For those of you who wonder what some of your fellow passengers might be thinking, take a listen to this. At http://www.archive.org/details/SuzanneLeBoeufBusRide , under “Audio Files”, listen to bus_ride.mp3, which seems to be a woman with real problems, both on the bus and off, talking.

The Mole Rides Again - so that you will benefit from the bus driver's take on psychology based on her cell phone conversation.

I am riding a 720 on Wilshire headed to Santa Monica. There are lots of Chinese on board today. One group is attempting to pull the signal cord out by the roots. not understanding that the “Stop Requested” light means someone has already requested the next stop. I wrote about this signaling problem some months ago. A young Chinese woman is sprawled out on the senior seats at the front of the bus, shoes on the seat cushions – oblivious of either, er, infraction?

I decide to take a 333 headed back downtown later in the day. A flock of perhaps 100 pigeons claim the grassy area around the cannon up above Santa Monica pier, near the “Lobster” restaurant. I watch one bird hop up and drink from the public drinking fountain – what I really see in an H5N1 (bird flu) vector.

Later, a man shares a shaded bus stop with me. First, he flicked away his contribution to the 4.5 trillion cigarette butts littered annually world wide. Then, he enjoys the lunch of champions, marshmallows and Coke.

On board a 439 bus (number 6583). The woman who is driving (operator 10092), must have qualified for the Guinness Book of Records based on this trip. She has been talking, nonstop, on her cell phone advising someone of Kitty's and or Sheri's faults or relationship problems. Dangerous, yes! But our inept LACMTA seems to have no action plan to deal with these excesses. Today's driver is not the first one I have encountered who has a cell phone addiction. It does seem to be primarily the lady drivers.

Based upon the cell phone conversations which intrude upon my space, half are unnecessary and the other half are with the telephone service provider involving one aspect or another of a billing issue.

A woman is selling “writing pens” at the Fox Hills Mall Transit Center. She asks $1 each without finding any takers and carries on a conversation laced with expletives with herself.

On a 232. The gift that keeps on giving, beer cans leaking from the plastic bags which were dragged on board by a re-cycler. I still wonder why this is not in violation of a health ordinance. The smell lingers long after the man has exited the bus.

Another 439 ride. This time we have the long promised (at the inception of TransitTV) live bus map. It is properly oriented with north at the top. But the usefulness is somewhat limited by this orientation. I believe that the maps should be oriented in the direction of travel. This would place the passing scenery correctly vis-á-vis one's right and left hand. Indicating the cardinal points on the map would make everything OK with the rules of map presentation. But, LACMTA is incapable of second level thought beyond - we will put a bus map on board.

The LAX city bus center is back to being dirty again. :-( The big orange ball which is the rising sun is balance on the eastern horizon when I arrive. A homeless man sleeps on a bench opposite Bay 12. And unfortunately, no Metro employee can see that the maps and schedules on the kiosk, have either faded to unreadability or are hopelessly out of date.

And yet another trip on the 439. A woman with some kind of “scratcher card” called “Wild Bingo” uses a coin to scrape the covering off potential winners and periodically dumps the residue on the bus floor. She seems very intent, perhaps this is part of her retirement plan. She uses the edge of the card to clean her fingernails. People are insensitive to the environment on a macro level, a micro level or both. She continues to scrape and simultaneously calls someone on her cell phone – it seems to be an apology for some failing or other. Eventually, she deems the scratcher a total loss and tears it up. Seated ahead of her, in separate seats, a man and a woman carry on a non-stop conversation. There seating arrangement ensures that they will have to speak more loudly – no reading for me on this trip and without my MP3 player today, I opt to do nothing well, except to make these journal entries. As we transit the downtown area a heavyset woman must navigate the aisle sideways.

On the Gold Line. A chef tells me that he believes that his nighttime bus connections are intentionally setup to introduce a wait. I disagree with him by countering that the LACMTA never makes any special effort to connect lines. If it seems that they do it is simply random chance at work and will probably change at the next “shakeup”, i.e., biannual schedule change.

Today's 439 driver (operator 34697) on bus number 7921 loves to chat up the ladies! He is, how does one say, always hitting on them. He stops the bus at a convenience store so the woman to whom he has been talking can get change for a day pass. The rest of us fume for five minutes while we contemplate missed schedules.

An inter-racial couple is attempting to move using a bus. Unfortunately, their big Dell box is not secured with rope or tape and spills it's contents – clothing and, only partially, a small refrigerator. They spend 15 or 20 minutes attempting to close it well enough for the rest of the trip.

The ad for rental cars aboard this Big Blue Bus says, “Public transportation is great. But, let's face it, it's not going to score you any points on a first date.” This is exactly opposite of what the Metro ads say.

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